One of the few bishops who even approaches what one could call a staunch and militant Catholic orthodoxy today is Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. Needless to say, he was not made a bishop by Francis but rather by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Bishop Strickland addressed the “controversy” surrounding a tweet in which he merely observed the obvious about the current state of the Church’s human element after more than fifty years of delusional “renewal” in the name of Vatican II:
“The deposit of faith has not been guarded, instead it has been fragmented & corrupted especially in the areas of marriage, family & sexuality. I pray that bishops & all Catholics will return anew to this font of revealed truth & pray for cleansing & renewal in God’s life & grace.”
Note well: Bishop Strickland prays that bishops will return to an adherence to Church teaching (the “font of revealed truth”) and defend her doctrine on marriage, family and sexuality.
Strickland is clearly not one of the bloated Hogarthian figures who occupy so many episcopal sees, where there is neither a bad meal to be eaten nor a discouraging word to be heard, and the Skies of Renewal are not cloudy all day. Strickland is thus quite willing to say the hard things that need to be said, such as: “Our society is unraveling, especially with regard to marriage, family and sexual morality. This is all the more tragic because God has revealed the truth that we need to flourish in this world and share eternal life with Him after we depart this world.”
Departing this world! Eternal life! Not exactly the uppermost items on contemporary episcopal agendas — or, for that matter, on the agenda of Benedict’s successor. As for the current Pope, while Strickland may be too politic to be quite that obvious, it is self-evident that it is largely on account of Francis that Church teaching has been “fragmented & corrupted… in the areas of marriage, family & sexuality.” It would be no exaggeration to say that this fragmentation, in the name of Francis’ newfangled “synodal church,” is the very program of his pontificate.
For it is none other than Francis who, alone among all the Popes in Church history, has authorized Holy Communion for public adulterers who claim to have “remarried” after an illicit civil divorce, thereby casting aside even the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to the contrary. And it is Francis who has declared that contraception can be justified as the “lesser of two evils” when used to prevent the transmission of disease — the notion that one may legitimately choose to do one evil to avoid another being the death of all morality. Nor can we forget that it was Pope Francis who insisted that the sham “Synod on the Family” include an interim report declaring that “homosexual unions” provide “precious support for the life of the partners” even after the bishops at the Synod had voted to reject it.
Strickland finds himself in a situation so degenerated that it now requires him manfully to affirm the most basic tenets of the natural law in the face of the hostility of his own fellow bishops in the USCCB. For example: “It’s part of our deposit of faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral.”
But even here Strickland seems to feel obliged to take a rhetorical half-step back from the whole truth: it is not that we believe that sodomy is immoral but rather that it is immoral, objectively and intrinsically, no matter what one believes.
Strickland went on to say that when it comes to caring for people afflicted by the homosexual disorder “to me that real care comes from acknowledging the sin, and the reality that all of us are sinners called from sin to virtue.” Obviously so. But of course in modern parlance to say that “to me” a given proposition is true is essentially to say it is merely one’s opinion and not, as is the case here, a divine counsel that can never be disregarded and does not, any more than the immorality of sodomy, depend upon how it seems “to me.”
But Strickland can be forgiven for such small equivocations, swimming as he is in a sea of apostasy. For as he himself laments regarding the widespread failure of his brethren in the episcopate to do anything to prevent the collapse of morality we now witness: “How did this happen, if we really believe that what was going on was wrong? … And I think we have to face that directly – Do we believe the doctrine of the Church, or not?”
Strickland obviously does believe it. But the question he poses identifies what this apostolate has long chronicled in light of the Message of Fatima and the Third Secret in particular: an ecclesial apostasy that, as Cardinal Ciappi warned, “will begin at the top.”